How Brides Can Avoid Wedding Dress Scams

Find out how to make sure you don't get ripped off.

When planning your wedding day, there are a lot of items on your to-do list. One of the most fun, perhaps, is finding your dream wedding dress. However, as with anything in life, it's important to stay alert and know what to expect in order to make sure you're not being taken advantage of. Weddings are wonderful moments in life – and they can also be expensive, leading some companies to exploit brides-to-be, making their experience even more stressful than necessary.

There are a number of things to consider when searching for your bridal gown – especially if you're choosing to purchase it (or any other wedding-related goods or services) online. To help offer some advice, we're sharing tips from Brian O'Connell, a former Wall Street bond trader and author of two best-selling financial books, on staying away from wedding-related scams. Read on below!

Bride on stairway article about avoiding bridal scams
Photo by Tunji Sarumi Photography; Floral & Event Design by Lily V Events

Avoiding Wedding Dress Scams for Buyers
Women looking to buy a wedding dress need to tread cautiously. The biggest threat are websites that promise to deliver a wedding dress to a buyer, but either fail to do so or deliver an inferior or damaged dress. Red flags include the following:

- Wedding dress prices are $200 or less – this should trigger skepticism from buyers.

- The online site is based in China. Large amounts of fraudulent wedding dress sales happen on these.

- There are no terms and conditions included in the sales agreement. That indicates the wedding dress buyer will have no leverage in getting a refund, especially from a geographically distant seller who doesn't operate under U.S. laws.

Women who are looking online should take the following steps to avoid wedding dress fraud:

- Vet the seller. Many sites and wedding forums provide reviews. If you notice repeated comments about dresses not arriving on time or not living up to what was sold to brides, your best bet is to go somewhere else for it.

- Get the contact information. Buyers should check the website to ensure there is a working phone number or email address to register any complaints stemming from the sale of a wedding dress.

- Check the designer. The designer's website should have a list of authorized retailers that sell their gowns.

- Check the website's images. Closely review any photos or images on the dress seller's site, especially those images featuring models. Check to see if the model's photo image is cropped, or if no copyrighted image language can be viewed. If so, that could mean the seller is using the image without permission, and is more likely to do other things that aren't legit.

- Don't pay in full before you get your dress. Deposits are common for wedding dresses; however, if you put 100% of the money down when you place the order, you have no leverage with the store if something goes wrong. 

Read more of Brian's tips on Experian, discover additional ways to stay scam-free, and view additional wedding planning advice here.

Authored by: Kelcy Christy